First the good news: Child deaths from motor vehicle crashes have decreased by 43% in the past decade. This is fantastic news and definitely worth celebrating.

children-deaths_570px (2)However, there’s still room for improvement. Motor vehicle crashes are still the #1 cause of death for American children, and the data from the CDC’s latest report shows that 1/3 of the children who died were unrestrained. Proper restraint significantly reduces the risk of death, so the best thing parents can do to protect their kids is to buckle them up!

Other points of note from the report:

  • Racial disparity among unrestrained children is significant (i.e., minority children are much more likely to be unrestrained).
  • An estimated 3,308 children under age 5 were saved by child restraints.
  • Infants under a year were most likely to be restrained, while 8-12 year olds were least likely to be buckled.
  • Improved child restraint laws can significantly decrease the percentage of unrestrained children in a state, decreasing deaths and injuries by 17%!

The CDC recommends that children ride rear facing until they are 2 years old, use a forward-facing harnessed seat until at least age 5, and remain in a booster until the seatbelt fits properly. “Buckle up every age, every trip.”

Sources: Vital Signs: Restraint Use and Motor Vehicle Occupant Death Rates Among Children Aged 0–12 Years — United States, 2002–2011 and CDC Vital Signs: Buckle up every age, every trip (February 2014).